Pandemic has presented ‘economic reset’ opportunities

Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Boitumelo Moloi said on Wednesday that while the Covid-19 pandemic has been catastrophic, it has, in many ways, presented a lot of economic reset opportunities in the process. She was addressing delegates at the launch of Switzerland's Institute of Management Development’s (IMD’s) 2021 World Competitiveness Yearbook Survey (WCY).

The event was organised by Productivity SA, an entity of the Department of Employment and Labour. The WCY ranking is a yearly report on the competitiveness of selected countries and is recognised internationally as the leading executive opinion survey of competitiveness between nations.

South Africa ranked sixty-first in economic performance, government efficiency and infrastructure and fifty-eighth in business efficiency. “Of great importance to us should always be the amount of heart and objective data that is used to determine our country’s productivity and competitiveness.

It is the usefulness of data collected by other institutions, which could be the IMD’s competitors, such as the World Economic Forum, that we should measure against our challenges as a country,” she said. The data collected by the IMD is based on 356 variables and she said there was a huge discord in how South Africa collected and collated data and how data was put to use for the country’s prosperity.

She said South Africa had to change this narrative. “As a country, for a very long time we have been focusing on data that has no meaningful solutions to our challenges and it is through partnerships such as Productivity SA and IMD that we find a true test in the solutions and prosperity-driven initiatives. This should be our own Silicon Valley as a country.

Twenty-four years in and so much data that we collate but we are unable to put to productive use for the country’s prosperity,” she added. She said something needed to be drastically changed soon. Meanwhile, Moloi stressed at the launch that private entrepreneurship was a driver of modern economic development, saying that there was a firm belief that in the quest for greater security and comfort, private individuals and their households were driven to seek ever increasing material wealth.

“Thus in our situation, we must always find a fundamental balance between profit margins and our labour laws constituting what is commonly known as the law of surplus value. This is the most pragmatic thing to do for a country of our history,” she said.

She noted that the most inexorable logic of capital accumulation was that the more you produced, the more you must produce, the cheaper you must produce it and the better products you must produce.

She warned that if those in business did not do that, others who were seeking greater security and comfort would displace them in the marketplace.

Engineering News
Edited by: Sashnee Moodley
Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia